Many people have observed an interesting phenomenon in yogis. They always seem to be much younger than other people in their same age bracket. This could be attributed to good genes, or even a pure, vegetarian diet; however, there is another secret that yoga practitioners hide close to their heart, one that keeps them vibrantly beautiful and feeling much younger. In fact, many of the exercises involved in yoga practice can help to set your physiological age factors behind by up to an entire decade or more. Pranayama is one of the important yogic tools for sustaining your health and beauty.
Better Than Moisturizer
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars every year on moisturizers and spa facials, unless you just want to enjoy the experience. Practicing the following pranayama (breathing exercises meant to increase your vital force, or Pranic energy) can be very helpful in making your skin radiant and your health like that of a teenager:
Nadi Sodana also Nadi Shuddhi
Alternate Nostril Breathing is an essential breath for increases life force. The yogis of ancient Sumeria and the modern day yogis in India, and elsewhere in the world know that this breathing exercise can help to purify the nadis and chakras in the body. Nadis are like a constellation of energy points in the body, akin to acupuncture meridians. They help the pranic energy flow without impediment from your head to your toes. Specifically, it helps to alternate the breath through the right and left hemispheres of the body and brain, unclogging any ‘dammed up’ energy that might be lying stagnant like old water in a stream. When this energy, or vital force, is freed it can be used by your body to help repair cells, supply energy for your daily physical requirements and even help to combat more serious diseases. It is like an elixir of youth. You can practice Alternate Nostril Breathing by using a Mudra (or hand gesture) of your liking, such as Vishnu or Pranayama Mudra, and covering one nostril while you breath deeply in, through the other. Change nostrils, covering the previously open nostril, and exhale, trying to make sure that the exhale lasts as long as possible, without strain, even if the nostril feels clogged on that particular side. Inhale on the same side, again making sure that you breath in as deeply as you can, and taking time to really fill up with air. Change nostrils again, removing the plug with your fingers and plugging the other side before you exhale. Repeat for at least ten rounds. Alternate nostril breathing practiced consistently can greatly increase your health and vitality.
Breath of Fire
This breath not only helps you to expel negative emotions from your mind, but also helps to dissipate negative energy from the muscles so that it does not become stored their as aches, and pains, and if left unnoticed or treated, more significant ailments. This breath helps to increase digestive fire. Essentially, the digestive organs including the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and the small large intestines become thoroughly cleansed with oxygen through this practice. It is thought in ancient yogic literature, that 90% of all diseases come from poor digestion, so by increasing your body’s ability to digest and rid itself of toxins, you are greatly increasing your vitality and natural beauty. This exercise also helps free the mind from unpleasant mental states, readjusts the nervous system and calms the brain. It expands lung capacity and flushes stagnant air from the alveoli. You should not practice this breath when you are pregnant or when you are just starting your menstrual cycle. To practice this type of breath, you will inhale deeply, and forcefully exhale through the nose before filling up the belly and diaphragm again with a deep breath. The focus should be on the exhale, while allowing the in-breath to happen naturally due to the full exhalation and subsequent need to fill the lungs again with breath. Practice this cycle unless you feel light headed, for sixty second cycles, working with just a few to start and increasing the number of cycles as you become more proficient.
Pooraka, Kumbhaka, Rechaka
Breath in, hold for a count of one, hold for a count of one and exhale for the count of two. Increase the ratios as you are able. 1:1:3, 2:2:6, etc. Beginner students will do this breath without bhandas or locks, advanced can retain the breath (kumbhaka) while engaging moolabhanda, udiyana bhanda and jhalandara bhanda. These are three psycho-energetic locks that are formed when certain muscles are contracted in the body. In the moolabhanda, for example, the same muscles which are used to go the restroom (between the anus and perineum) are squeezed. With the udiyana bhanda, the abdominal muscles are contracted so that they pull in towards the spinal column, and with jhalandara bhanda, the chin is hinged back and down into the chest to put gentle pressure on the carotid artery and lower the heart rate while the breath is being retained.
Deep, Yogic Breathing
Yogic breathing / pranayama is essential and you can practice it anywhere to help reduce stress-related disease as well as the hormones which cause us to age more quickly. Just breath in deeply, without force, and exhale deeply without force. Try to let your mind rest on your breath and nothing else.
These powerful yoga pranayama will help to increase your beauty and vitality by a hundred fold or more!
Recommended article for further reading: Why Pranayama makes you look younger?